On The Road Again, Earth

Travels With Oso con Migo

OAE On The Road Again, McMurdo Winter Over 1995 October 5, 1995, last letter August 20, 1995 On The Road Again Letters Travels with Oso con Migo
Greetings Kindred,

 I have decided I will carry my laptop on the coming adventure and send you epostcards from exotic eports. I think my next envestment in going to be one of those electronic cameras so I can get photos on disk and send GIFs to my friends.

23rd August -- The Day of The Freshies.

A plum! You know what a plum is--A puerile prune... He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum!

The ajo homepage has moved: http://www.fsci.umn.edu/~ajo/ajotop.htm

WinFly is over, the dining room is packed. What a madhouse. Today I made a frappe of fresh banana, Baileys, vodka, and some of that so-called soft ice cream. And read sort of new Sunday Comics.

And there is mail. A few letters, a box leftover from AirDrop. Yum!

This just in from Northcountry Correspondent Larry of Trask: Howard's Restaurant was founded in the 1930's (I think) by the Howard grandparents of it's last owner.  The restaurant became a landmark to many. They served good meals in a clean atmosphere, and obtained a reputation for sinfully delicious home baked pastries.  Located on the Mohawk River on US Route 3 in the center of Colebrook, the restaurant was visited by thousands of travellers - Canadians on their way to and from the Maine seacoast and others from the south on their way to and from Canada.

I don't recall when Dean and Jean Howard took it over from Dean's parents. It was a quite a while before I moved up here which was in 1973.  Under Dean and Jean, the business grew and they prospered. Dean ran and constantly cleaned the place while Jean supervised the kitchen and did all of the baking, rising at 3am each morning to do it.  They opened the place at 4 am and it was usually quite busy at that hour.  It was a meeting place for the logging industry then, and many large contracts were concluded over breakfast.  They did a nice lunch business and stayed open for supper until 8:00pm when they closed.

During my years here, I ate at Howard's constantly - not only for the food (I consumed far too many "galvanized" doughnuts) but for service which I have never known anywhere else.  It was the kind of service which can only exist in a small town.  Friendly, efficient waitresses, who knew you by name, what you liked, what was going on in your life.  Women like Jackie, Ita, Irene, Donna, and many others invariably brightened many days for me. The owners I knew - Dean, Jean, Joanne, and Moon - would also join their customers.  It was a hangout for some of our most colorful locals as well. For example, Burley Placey, also known as the "Greatest of All Great Chiefs" (he was the Police Chief of West Stewartstown for a while) would almost always be there, coffee in hand, to regale the unsuspecting with his exploits! Any small child who would address him by his proper title would invariably walk away richer by a quarter or so.

One of their sons, Cameron (known as "Moon" by locals) bought the place from his parents about 6 or 7 years ago.  He and his wife Joanne ran it until it finally folded early this year, a victim of the worst winter economy the area has seen in years.  Moon still lives in the area, while Joanne has moved to southern Vermont where she is the assistant manager of a Pizza Hut. Dean and Jean are retired and living in Maine. -30-

I will second that. But Larry is being kind--and politically astute-- when he blames Howard's demise on "the worst winter economy" in years.  Another fine North Country establishment bites the dust. Driven out by greed, lust, and the American Way.

So...in reference to whether or not to carry your lap top, YES. I would love to receive mail from you Al, it's always a treat. That is about the jist of the message I am getting from those few who have taken the time to reply. I am getting the sense that my list is too big and mundane in that few folks respond to anything. But for my own interest I am toying with the idea getting one of those ecameras so I can take ephotos and include an occasional epostcard with my On The Road Again letters. I wonder if I can make a living at this.

29th August 1-1-1-1-

... and for my 1 month, 1 week, 1 day, 11th hour before I depart announcement I would have you know that automatic virus scan did not function during my login this morning.

 ... not only that but my milk was sour--curdled in my coffee. Grrr.

Getting time to start packing. May take me a month.

At the awards meeting last night one guy stood to ask the chair why we were not getting Labour Day as a day off holiday. When the explanation did not satisfy him he stalked off to the bar in a cloud of verbal and physical profanity. Toast. But he has a legitimate complaint; For a moment I felt an urge to walk out with him and I was surprised some of the more radical party animals didn't.

This time there was a new item on the agenda. Winter-Over Tee shirts were to be gifted along with the medals and pins to all who showed up at the meeting. Many of my peers admitted that the only reason they were there was for the shirt. Do the medals mean so little? Shirts are so ephemeral, in-substantive--the medal you can pass on, wear on Memorial Day, your heirs can sell at a flea market--the shirt will end up in a dust bin, GoodWill (if it lasts that long), carwash rag. "This is the medal I received for Wintering at McMurdo." or "This is the tee shirt I received for Wintering at McMurdo." Which sounds more heroic?

Mitch has had a hard time getting out of bed early enough to get to breky before the fresh fruit is gone. I slipped him a peel. ... Thank you SOOOOOO much for the banananana delivery.  When I returned home, I thought for sure that Bananta Claus, or the Beaster Banunny, or maybe the Banana Faerie (if this were a winged variety of nymph, would it be a fruit fly?) had visited.  This may be the last chance for a banana split.

Mitch has been here too long; he canna tell one holiday from another. Its "Day-O" Mitch "Da-a-ay Ooo"

2nd September I am getting started

with the arduous task of moving out of here. Processing out, packing trunks, arranging for shipping, what goes what stays, itinerary and tickets and visas and inoculations, and don't forget to leave your keys.

Next there is the matter of deciding, now that I have announced to the world that I am not returning--that I am taking a year off to sit on my zafu--whether or not to return again next winter to a newly created position that will make good use of my eclectic eccentricities. Not to mention put another season's salary in the banque. I am trying to write a balance sheet. Item--I can return here and risk frostbite of the brain or visit Minnesota and risk Paul's cooking at an fscn5111 BBQ.

4th September Labour Day.

See what happens when you try to fool Mother Nature... Monday dawned cold, it was too dark to see if it was cloudy. Cold and windy. It had to be the coldest of the winter. The draught blowing through my hooch lowered the temperature *15* degrees! My fingers were stiffening over the keyboard--I was in danger or perishing from hypothermia right there in my bed. All I could think of was poor Lizzie Bourne. Would have easily been a three dog night if all the huskies hadn't been replaced by sno-mobiles. I barely made-do with two extra blankets and a cat. (El Gato does not like the cold.) Shortly after everyone (else) was at work the wind began to increase and the weather office weather observer announced he was giving everyone ten minutes to get home then he would set Condition One. Condition One means where ever you are that's where you stay until the weather meliorates. So the holiday that couldn't happen--did.

I am about to finish up fscn5111, the distance learning course Internetting for Biologists and Others. My closing essay is on the matter of Time Zones. The course is based at the University of Minnesota and as long as all the students are, IRL, on campus, time zones are not a problem. But the Internet is creating a diaspora [4,5] from the IRL campus and the result is a student body that has no common time. When the class tries to meet in the Professor's virtual office at the virtual Diversity University time becomes the Clock Tower of Babel.

The Big Dummy's Guide To


For those of us who spend our lives within a hundred miles of home Time Zones are never any more of a problem than the Spring Ahead-- Fall Back foolishness that our leaders would have us believe somehow magically bestows an extra hour of daylight, as if our days were already not long enough sometimes, on an otherwise drear day.

But--for those of us imbued with the sense of restlessness that results in one's hopping about the countryside like some peripatetic lagomorph--Time Zones can be a big headache.

In 1880 the Commissioners of Time Zones met in London and set themselves up as Keepers of the Clock. They established 24 hourly zones, one for each 15 degrees of longitude, around the globe. It was one of several early coincident scientific discoveries that the lines of longitude divided into the length of day just happened to equal how long it took the sun to come round again. The French have been trying to metrificate it ever since. In 1883 Time Zone accountability reached the United States--the railroads were having a devil of a time keeping track of local noon on their east-west runs. It was another of those coincident scientific discoveries. Someone observed that trains running north-south (and south-north too for that matter) were more often "on time" than trains running east-west or west-east. In one direction they were rarely early and in the other always late. Standard Time zones fixed it so trains could always be late by the same factor no matter which direction they traveled in.

In 1884 at the Meridian Conference in Washington DC (Eastern Time) Greenwich was accepted by Time Keepers thinking far into the future as the first timezone thus paving the way for shipping, and, later, air travel, to enjoy the same benefits as the railroads.

To help you all get a handle on what time zone you are in (The Twilight Zone?) I am making this special offer available. A Shareware programme called GeoClock (v4.3) in the form of a self-extracting ZIP may be found at ftp://nps.mcmurdo.gov/bin/geoclk.exe

This offer may be discontinued at any time.

For v5.1 you can look at http://www.travelxn.com/pcsw/geoclk.zip

The version 4.3 is preconfigured to show several cities important to me and is set for GMT. You would have to change the primary city to yours and change the base time zone to yours. The 5.1 version you will have to configure from scratch tho there is good help and a default set of configurations.

The programme, when properly configured, will show the correct relative time in all the displayed cities, even accounting for Daylight Spring Ahead Summer Time for those who need that little extra daylight so they can stay up later without the onerous burden of having to get up any earlier.

September 10, 1995

Tonight is the end of astronomical twilight. I have seen the sun a few times in the past week and tonight there is a faint electric blue glow along the southern horizon. The photovoltaic panels at Black Island are producing energy, albeit weekly but a few amps nonetheless and every amp means a saving in JP-8. I have made a few changes to my homepage--added some images and a few new links. One link is to Ethan's page where he has a SunChart that shows the annual distribution of daylight at McMurdo.

Starting with my next edition of On The Road Again I will be posting the letters, maybe with an occasional electronic postcard (ecard), at my homepage:


rather than emailing them to eighty some eddresses. If you do not have WWWeb capabilities or you want to continue receiving the text from the mailing list let me know.

September 21, 1995

In just a few weeks we have gone from midnight dark at noon to twilight bright at midnight. This weekend will be the equinox--Spring in the southern hemisphere, Autumn in the northern. Compared to in the dark time the weather is already warm enough, albeit still below freezing, for shorts. The sun makes a powerful difference very quickly.

Saturday 23rd, Sunrise at South Pole! Happy Equinox!

Here is a new toy for all of you interested in Wind Chill. This handy box will convert between F and C, figure out the Wind Chill Factor and tell you which of the three McMurdo Weather Conditions exist at your site.

Find it on the Dancing With Penguins section of my homepage or anonymous FTP directly to ftp://nps.mcmurdo.gov/bin/chill.zip.

Artfully crafted by a native programmer right here on the ice from scraps of code and leftover icons, just the thing to round out your knick-knack directory, and offered to you --no fee, no help-- from IceWarE. Get your copy before they all melt.

Various disclaimers apply, good only in an IBM/Windows operating environment, may not function correctly in temperate climates.

Time to start singing the Twelve Days of WinFly song...

September 25, 1995... On the Twelfth Day of WinFly...

So you are going for the one-year-off plan.  Sounds luxurious.  Good for Changed my mind... I will take off three months and then return for another winter. I was inspired by someone who just wrote about how they were not going to retire just yet but work a few more years... Besides, my bus is not yet ready so rather than drift around in a rental car from one besleepingbagged couch to the next I will come back here where there is at least a semblance of security and not much of a traffic problem.

September 26, 1995... On the Eleventh Day of WinFly...

the reason is, I am sure, I haven't sacrificed properly to Zeus [...] is not a logical internaut reason for inaccessibility?  Works for me! And me too. Sometimes the only sacrifice that works is to loose another of ones marbles. Dionysus is the proper moniker for the god in residence here. The vine is what some folks have likend to the infobhan--that is a mistake from the viewpoint of Dionysus but juices moving through the vine from grape (marble) to grape just doesn't cut the mustard for those who think in terms of high speed packets of information zipping through the ether.

Partaking of the nectar of Dionysus (Bacchus is another way of saying the same thing and incidently has to do with yeast--so we connect with bread--bread and wine lead on to other pagan rituals which have their counterpoints in cyberspace) always pleases, and, like music (Mozart) sooths the savage cyberbeast.

September 27, 1995... On the Tenth Day of WinFly...

Signed off at the FM Shop. It is now a matter of record that I have no two-way radio and no pager. Not that I ever did.

Tony made me a nice cutting board. Walnut, mahogany, oak; truly a work of art. He says that after I use it once it will be firewood and I should throw it in the stove, says he's a carpenter not an artist. At least it doesn't have any crack in it so I should have no problem getting it past customs--the wood probly came from CONUS in the first place. Now I have to get him to make me a cover for my case of books.

This is the last letter of this set for the Winter Over of 1995. The next letter will start a new set and commencing with that I want to seriously prune my mailing list. Also commencing with the first letter of the next set I will be attaching electronic postcards. Letters and ephotos will be available at my HomePage "On The Road Again, Earth" at http://www.fsci.umn.edu/~ajo/ajotop.htm for those who have a WWWebrowser. If you have WWWeb access and do not want to

No tickee no laundree.

"Around The World In Sixty Days" will commence after a few weeks of fossicking around New Zealand. My itinerary still has a few holes in it but I should get to fly a kite on several continents.

September 28, 1995 ... On the Ninth Day of WinFly...

Something perverse is happening. After an entire Winter of near flawless operation things are breaking faster than they can be fixed. At this moment all our attention is directed at the DMSP TerraScan Earth Imaging Receiver System. DMSP is a collection of little black boxes of various colours and sizes, from a dome covered antenna on the roof of building 165 to a Sun Systems computer in the Weather Office, which has insinuated itself into the essentials of flying large aluminium passenger carrying birds to, and from, warmer places. Actually there are two of these systems, so there are very few spare parts, but they are somewhat different in what they see and how well they see it. DMSP is the bigger older producing better photos system and works under the moniker of "Sundog" (Sundog is the false sun, the bright spot on the parhelic circle sometimes seen, especially in winter, about 22 degrees to either side of the sun on the solar halo.) The newer system, NOAA, is called Sunpup, but its cloud charts are not as detailed, not as useful for the particular business of flying, more suited to the bigger picture of weather forecasting. (A sign in the Weather Office says "We have successfully predicted 10 out of the last 4 storms at McMurdo.") DMSP and NOAA are both dogs, but one of them is a bitch.

September 29, 1995 ... On the Eighth Day of WinFly...

The Virtual Funeralist. A few days ago Scotty's father died. Scotty is the cook at Scott Base and his father, also known as Scotty, had been ill for a while. Scotty had been out to Black Island to visit during the dark of Winter and cooked for us there and I have been over to Scott Base a couple of times to help him cook there. My father died whilst I was at Palmer a few years ago and I have yet to go "home" and completely deal with that grief so all together there is a special thing happening here. Today old Scotty's funeral service was held in New Zealand and NZ Telecom hooked up a special circuit from the church via satellite to a smallish but comfortable office at the base where several of us gathered around the speaker-phone.

The preacher said in his opening remarks that they had "a live hookup to Scotty in Antarctica ... I mean the live Scotty at Scott Base ... Scotty the son ..."  Well you have to have been there...

And then in the evening was a party given by some of the Information Systems incoming summer folks for the outgoing IS Winter Overs. Many "Toasts" were there. Good food and good fun. And before I get too far gone it is essential I get back to fixing DMSP...

September 30, 1995 ... On the Seventh Day of WinFly...

And even as I write this the external colour monitor I have had connected to my laptop for the past two winters just blanked out. Just as well. I have put my tooth brush into my pack and sorted my cloths into "take these" and "dirty" piles. It is time to return to the small grey scale screen of the laptop and put away the pretty colours of the virtual reality that has sustained me; pretty soon there will be real colours and smells to revel in.

Speaking of piles... I am sitting here on the floor of my cave surrounded by little piles and stuff sacks of things to take, things to leave, things to toss in the skua pile or the tip. Now I am packing again... This bag to stay, this one goes; this too stays, these two go; three to stay, these three go... you know how that routine goes, eh? The going pile is bigger than my pack.

October 2, 1995 ... On the Fifth Day of WinFly...

Somehow I have lost a day. Sunday was yesterday. I remember packing; but then I am still packing and have just been reminded that today is now Monday. The Network Administrator went around changing all the clocks to Austral Spring Ahead Time, maybe that is what happened. At least one person's sixty day ShareWare evaluation period ended a month early when the month slipped ahead instead of only the hour. It's a good thing I only lost a day.

I found a pile of thirty wine bottle corks. My Limmers have been setting in a corner by the door, behind the mattress and bed parts for the soon to arrive other occupant of this dorm room. I want to be out of here before that eventuality; move to the Hotel California or the Mammouth Mountain Inn for the last few days. That will give me a little time to get use to living out of my pack. Without getting maudlin, it is enough to have to move out of what becomes one's home in the course of the winter, I don't want to be here when some FNG invades my space. Anyhow... my Limmers have been in the corner, repositorium for corks from the Rhines and Rieslings (but not the Twist-off-cork'd Chablis which was available in great abundance) opened and consumed in my cave over the winter. Thirty. At least.

October 3, 1995 ... On the Fourth Day of WinFly...

These are the busiest days of the season. The perversity of nature is such that things that have been working ok all winter break down now and the severity of their impact is in direct proportion to their importance to the flight plan. Running around making hasty fixes, (no time for proper repairs, we will not wait for parts to be delivered, the incoming crew will have to pick up the pieces), is complicated by the administrative effort of signing off with housing, tools, library... packing and moving take their toll, not to mention parties. Tonight was Libra Night at Hut-10.

The first plane landed today with the first wave of MainBody and turned right around and carried off some of the WinterOvers--but the line in the galley is longer yet. By some other perversity of administration %Science Persons%, "beakers" as we call them, have first crack at getting on to the ice to get their projects under way- - -no matter that the increase in population overwhelms the support staff left short handed until later.

October 4, 1995 ... On the Third Day of WinFly...

A C-5 landed today. Yesterday's plane was a C-141, the C-5 is bigger. Just a few seconds before touchdown the pilot poured on the coal and took her around again. These planes can carry enough fuel that they can fly all the way from Christchurch, 2250 miles to the north, circle round Ross Island, and fly all the way back. Without landing. It has happened. So when this C-5, with her wheels only fifty feet above the ice runway nosed up and climbed away all the folks waiting in the PAX boarding lounge groaned. It's not nice to fool with a WinterOver.

October 5, 1995 ... On the Second Day of WinFly...

What a mad scramble. I have had weeks to consider this moment, days to prepare for it; now I am down to the last few hours and still running around in circles.

       Most of the summer crew are in;
       Now begins the turnover.



       But mostly lemon...

       Soon I will be leaving.

       The sun is up,
       The day is light.
       The FNGs are a fright.
       We have some broken things tonight,
       I must be spells a weaving.

       Somewhere in this box there is a demon.

       But not to worry;

       If I can just hold out
       A while longer,
       Soon I will be leaving.

                               --ajo, w/o94McMurdo

Here is one for the Road as they say... Something you really need...

Don Slack has spent some time this winter teaching himself to programme. I mentioned one of his efforts earlier that calculates Wind Chill and McMurdo Weather Conditions. Now he has finished up a releasable version of his McMurdo Show and Tell.

The programmes are to be found at http://nps.mcmurdo.gov/bin/chill.zip and http://nps.mcmurdo.gov/bin/mcview.zip

McView.ZIP (FREE[ze] WARE) contains almost everything you need to make a skua's eye view of McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica, appear on your computer screen with pop-ups and inset photos that gives you a virtual tour around the station. Just unZIP the file in a directory of its own (I put mine in C:\WINDOWS\MCVIEW and its happy) and read the readme for details on how to make it work. You will need VBRUN300.DLL but that should be available just about anywhere on the net if you don't already have a copy.

Comments should be directed to Don Slack, his eddress is in the readme, but he won't be there for a few weeks yet.

On the last day of WinFly...

What? What was that? Did I hear some voice crying out in the ether "What Are Limmmmers???...
. o O (What are %Limmers%?)


     My ass is wide from sitting flat upon the chair,
     My lungs collapse from lack of cold clean mountain air,
     Fingers worn unto the calloused bone typing
     Words wheezed out through swollen bloodied lips.
     My Limmers sit in corner by the door
     Waxed ready for a walk or hike but
     Tread uncut by cinders of Antarctic shore.
     To the doctor I have been to see
     If he has a serum that might cure this malady.
     But, lo! a box of pens he gives to me,
     Says take one of these each day and write
     Until the ink runs out of sight
     And if when all the pens are gone
     You still are at no loss for words
     Come back and I will give you one box more.
     There is no cure for illness such as yours
     For once the cap is off the muse is loose.
     A kindly audience is now your quest;
     A place with equal treatment for your worst
     Whilst paying room and board for all your best.

                                        --ajo, MCM

    ... be leavin'
    on a Jet Plane
  'don't know  when I'll
            be back again...

Once again...  a reminder ... please let me know so I can remove your eddress from the list. If you want to continue receiving these letters in the mail please let me know so I can move your eddress from the iceletter list to the roadletter list.

On the Road Again... ajo


 A.J.Oxton, OA, OO, OAE,  k1oIq

Back to Oso

Back to ajo
Copyright © 2003, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , 03813-0144.